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Francesco Laurana

(c. 1430—1502)


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(b Vrana, nr. Zara, Dalmatia [now Zadar, Croatia], c.1430; d Marseilles, ?1502).

Italian sculptor, born in Dalmatia, at that time subject to Venice. He is first recorded in 1453 in Naples, where he was one of several sculptors who worked on the decorations to the triumphal arch of Alfonso I that forms the entrance to Castelnuovo. By 1461 he was working in Provence and thenceforward he divided his time between France and Italy, mainly the south of Italy, including Sicily, although he is thought to have visited Urbino, and was possibly related to Luciano Laurana, the chief architect of the celebrated Ducal Palace there. In France his most important work was the chapel of St Lazare (1475–81) in the Old Cathedral at Marseilles, described by Anthony Blunt as ‘probably the earliest purely Italian work on French soil’. He is best known, however, for his female portrait busts of royal and aristocratic sitters. In these remarkably sensitive works the forms of the face are subtly generalized in a search for basic geometric shapes, and their simple naturalism was sometimes enhanced by heightening the marble with colour, as in the bust of Isabella of Aragon (c.1470) in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Subjects: Art.


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